Thursday, March 25, 2010

Poetry When?


Went to the keynote address for Poetry Now last night. Paul Muldoon gave a talk on 6 Irish Poets, and 7 of their poems with references to fish. Paul is a genius, everyone left elated and buzzing from the performance.
Two of the poets in question were there and read their poems for us, Seamus Heaney and Medbh McGuckian. He took us through the literary, legendary, political, biblical and personal references that he saw in the individual pieces - sometimes the references were very obscure and tenuous. In one poem alone, there were the 30 pieces of silver from Jesus' betrayal, echoes of an ancient Irish poem by Aengus, a piece of Finnegan's Wake, "Ah" referred to Ahab from Moby Dick and many more. He highlighted threads and connections that may have been unknown to the poets themselves, but he argued their possible (even subconscious) use.
He taught us a new word "Guddle" - which means to tickle a fish - judging by the high level of poets and writers in the audience - that one will be coming soon to a poem, or piece of literary fiction, near you very soon.
All this was after he had dealt with an aggressive heckler at the very start of the evening, who started off shouting at Paul about "Why didn't he take a stance on Northern Ireland politics" - and ended sheepishly leaving, having read on Paul's invitation - the first poem of the night to be tackled. It was really amazing.
He told us some personal stories of his own along the way, and ended with reference to the Pope's Letter to Ireland - how secularism was to blame for the woes of the church and how one of the concrete initiatives was for Ireland to pray about the problem. He finished with the killer line - (which of course I didn't take down, though I should have, so can't quote exactly) - about how it is still the responsibility of the fish to get off the hook.

6 comments:

Emerging Writer said...

Cracker of a start, ay? and more to come. Brilliant

the watercats said...

That sounds like a fairly heavy duty night.. I think it would really hurt my brain, lol
Mind you... sounds excellent though!

Niamh B said...

Twas just mindblowing EW.
Watercats, I worried at the start that it might be too heavy, but he used humour throughout while still imparting all this amazing information and connections and stuff, so kept you with it.
It was great.

BarbaraS said...

I like that closing line about the fish and the hook. Something to think about, eh? More than 'guddle' - that's so last year ;) Or at least, it will be when everyone starts writing about it.

Totalfeckineejit said...

Right, 'Guddle' it is for me poetry bus poem.

Niamh B said...

Definitely Barbara, one of the most thought provoking evenings I've been to in a long time.
Right TFE - I look forward to it very much... It's such a cute one isn't it? I can't believe I've never guddled our goldfish... neglectful parenting.